Capitalism and today’s general economic system has consumption integrated as a part of society, especially in the Western world. People today consume in a way that their purchasing choices define who they are. Looking into one’s shopping bag you can find a lot of information about how their personality is, their hobbies, even their profession etc. What is behind consumption in today’s westernized society?
Capitalism has created a society that is consumer based in order to preserve the idea of capital. The market has become so wide that numerous corporations provide a variety of services and goods and every corporation provides endless choices available for consumers. This has created the current societal structure which is based on the idea of consumption and commercialization, opposed to the earlier societies that were more work-based and industrialized.
A consumer society is recognized by the consumption habits of the individual which amplify the capitalistic system in which profit maximization, revenue and globalized ventures for exploitation of ever more new markets is the epicenter. That is why the culture following this system is the ultimate idea of consumption. In our days, consumption is not driven by social responsibility since, due to the vast amount of choices and perpetual launching of new trends, individuals often end up in overconsumption habits.
Hence, consumption is defined as the final purpose of an economic activity. The value per each individual is the driving factor that determines and assesses the production success of the society’s economy. It is also used as a measurement of the total output of each country’s economy. Through consumption habits we also understand a lot about a country’s operations and phenomena such as unemployment rate, poverty, buyers behaviour etc. Consumption is also described as the satisfaction of not only human needs but also their desires and wants, especially in the current westernized societies.
Psychology behind consumption
Western societies today are targeting consumption even more, since they are defined by egocentricity, advertising, role models and continuously upgraded trends targeting the self-image and even the self-esteem of the everyday consumer. One’s self worth is currently measured by their buying power. Consumers accumulate in the form of commodities as they buy their worth in products and invest in products’ value instead of self-value. Producers accumulate in the form of capital which they invest to accumulate more profit.
Consumers today purchase in a way that is far away from the older concept of purchasing habits. They do so in order to appeal to the opposite gender, to manifest authority or a specific state, to adopt a persona or mimic their idols.
If we take a simple example of a deodorant: An individual today will buy the one that has the odor to attract another individual and not simply for covering a bad odor after a training day. Capitalism has shaped our consumption habits, as they are of today, in a manner that our “needs” will hardly be accomplished. Instead, consumers fall in the vicious circle of endless purchases to enhance their confidence and image and/or to compete in who has the latest tech gadgets, the ultimate piece of fashion garment and so on. The psychology of consumption today is built in the principles of competition, dissatisfaction and low self-esteem. However, this urge has led to a variety of societal and environmental issues as well. As for the former, the lack of satisfaction has made consumers work longer and harder to produce more money to buy more. This also leads to a variety of mental issues when we feel that our materialistic needs are not fulfilled.
Consumption and the environment
As for the environment, our consumption habits have led to the depletion of natural sources in order to meet our ever more and ever changing demands. Businesses will seek for cheaper alternatives in raw materials and production to meet the demands. And after the resources become scarce, manufacturers will seek other ways to exploit the environment. Deforestation, global warming, plastic pollution, increased toxicity due to waste are but a few environmental issues rooted in industrialization and further fueled by capitalism and thus consumerism and materialism.
How does Kleiderly contribute?
At Kleiderly, we are aware of the little resources left in our ecosystem, and the big role that consumerism plays here, especially when looking at fashion. That is why Kleiderly wants to make people aware of the great and already existing resources we can make use of, such as unwanted clothes, by giving them a new life.